Dear Parents and Students!
Here's another article written by our psychologist, Ms Karolina Ciesielka. This time Ms Karolina wrote about anger.
Coping with Anger
Anger is a strong emotional reaction that usually appears when we lose control or things go bad. This emotion is completely natural and adaptive, it often indicates that our private space is being invaded and we need to find a solution.
The problem with anger occurs when our coping strategies are not efficient enough or they are not developed yet. Unfortunately, uncontrolled anger might lead to aggressive behaviours, which are likely to impact our relationships.
Having given above, what could be done to deal with children’s anger and how to improve self-regulation? Let’s take a look at some tips below:
Step 1. Identify Anger
The first and basic step to develop self-regulation is to learn recognizing emotions - how do you know that this is anger? Driving anger usually triggers physical reactions such as increased blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, respiration as well as higher body temperature and perspiration. Encouraging your child to identify first signals will increase self-awareness and is likely to prevent outbreaks.
Step 2. When am I Angry?
Think about it - what makes you angry? Which situations make your child feel this way and why is it difficult to control it? Prepare a list of cases in which anger usually appears. Once it is done, think of reasons why exactly this things are annoying? Is anger directed to a specific person, an object or oneself? Why your coping strategies fail in this situation? Answering these questions may help with identifying triggering mechanism - you could try to think of them through “brainstorm” with your child.
Step 3. Find Triggers
What is a difference between frustration and outbreak? The one of possibility to measure anger’s intensity, is to imagine or create “ an anger thermometer”. The higher the temperature is, the more difficult anger to control. Having the list of triggering situations, you could also rate angers’ intensity in each of them.
Step 4. Seek Alternatives
It is good to take a look at the alternative strategies of expressing strong emotions. Take into consideration what are children’s skills, interests and needs - encourage them to seek creative ideas that could help with relieving their anger. It might be for example hugging parents, physical activity, listening to music, counting to 10 or tearing up paper. Everybody has personalised techniques, if not - this is a good moment to think about them.
Step 5. Reinforce Good Behaviours
Once you finished preparing the list of triggering situations and coping strategies, this is the time to implement them. If children use desirable techniques, notice it and build it up. You could also set a reward system, so the new behaviours could be better reinforced. Depending on the age, rewards could be introduced as stickers, more time for video games, or more time to spend with friends - it is up to you.
Step 6. When Parents are Angry
It goes without saying that anger, stress, nervousness and frustration may also affect parents therefore it is of vital importance to learn how to express our emotions, especially when children are around. Kids observe behaviours and learn coping paths from their caretakers. It is therefore advisable to think over our own triggers and strategies of expressing emotions.
All in all, working on self-regulation may support developing assertiveness and setting boundaries. Improvement might be sometimes noticeable once children manage to recognize triggering situations that results in applying positive attitude. Working systematically on that should provide better outcome and might be beneficial to the further development.
Doliński, D., 2000: Emocje, poznanie i zachowanie. W: Psychologia. Podręcznik akademicki. Red. J. Strelau. T. 2. Gdańsk.
Fornalik, I., 2001: Uczucie złości. W: Jak sobie radzić z niechcianymi uczuciami. Red. I. Obuchowska. Poznań.